Are you ready to take on tomorrow’s IT? Think again.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front. The business of IT is very complex and getting increasingly more complex every day. It does not matter whether you are the buyer or the seller; the industry is evolving into a very different and complex beast.

Evolution of the CIO

How we, as CIOs, have lead IT organizations is very different today from how it was done just 5-10 years ago. In many ways, it is easier to forget what we learned about leading IT and starting over. Of course, the leadership aspects are perennial and will always endure and grow. I wrote a bit about the evolutionary changes for the CIO in more detail with the 5 Tectonic shifts facing today’s CIO. In essence, tomorrow’s CIO is a business leader that also has responsibility for IT.

Consider for a moment that the CIO and IT organization sits on a spectrum.

CIO IT Org Traits

Where the CIO and IT sit along the spectrum impacts perspective, delivery of solutions, target, and responsibilities along with a host of other attributes for both the organization and providers alike.

The changing vendor landscape

Add it all together and today is probably the most confusing time for providers of IT products and services. Traditionally, providers have asked customers what they need and then delivered it. Today, many customers are not really sure what they need or the direction they should take. And the providers are not well equipped to lead the industry in their particular sector let alone tell a good story of how their solution fits into the bigger picture.

As an example, one provider would tell customers their cloud solution ‘transforms’ their business (the company IT is part of). This is completely wrong and over-extends beyond anything their solution is capable of. As such, it positions the company to over commit and under deliver. For the wise CIO, it leads to a serious credibility problem for the provider. It would be pretty unique for any vendor to truly ‘transform’ a company with a single technology let alone one that is far removed from the core business functions. A better, more accurate statement would be: We help enable transformation.

Be careful of Buzzword Bingo. Bingo!

In another recent IT conversation, the perception was that all Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions were ubiquitous and interchangeable. While we hope to get there some day, the reality is far from standardized. Solutions from providers like Amazon (AWS), Google (GCE), Microsoft (Azure) are different in their own rights. But also very different from solutions provided by IBM (SoftLayer), CenturyLink (SAVVIS), HP (Helion). Do they all provide IaaS services? Yes. Are they similar, interchangeable and address the same need? No. For the record: Cloud is not Cloud, is not Cloud.

The terms IaaS and Cloud bring market cache and attention. And they should! Cloud presents the single largest opportunity for IT organizations today. However, it is important to understand the actual opportunity considering your organization, strategy, capability, need and market options available. The options alone are quite a job to stay on top of.

Keeping track of the playing field

The list of providers above is a very small list of the myriad spread across the landscape. To expect an IT organization to keep track of the differences between providers and map their needs to the appropriate solutions takes a bit of work. Add that the landscape is more like the shifting sands of a desert and you get the picture.

The mapping of services, providers and a customer’s needs along with the fact that their very needs are in a state of flux create a very complex situation for CIO, IT organization and providers.

Is it time to give up? No!

Today’s CIO is looking to up-level the conversation. They are less interested in a technology discussion and one about business. Specifically, by ‘business’ conversation, today’s CIO is interested in talking about things of interest to the board of directors, CEO and rest of the executive team. Trying to discuss the latest technology bell or whistle with a CEO will go nowhere. They are interested in ways to tap new revenue streams, greater customer engagement and increasing market share.

For the CIO, focus on the strategic conversations. Focus on the business opportunities and look for opportunities that technology can help catapult the company forward. Remember that the IT organization no longer has to do everything themselves. Divest those functions that are not differentiating. As an example, consider my recent post: CIOs are getting out of the data center business. If you are not willing to (or capable of) competing at the level that Google runs their data center, it is time to take that last post very seriously. Getting rid of the data center is not the end state. It is only the start.

HP’s Helion OpenStack is here

If you want an HP-branded OpenStack or an HP-branded Cloud Foundry, you are in luck: Both are available today with support from friends Docker, New Relic, MongoDB.

6 Nuclear Power Startups To Watch

Barack Obama’s $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, announced today, is aimed at building more massive, gigawatt-sized reactors. Still, that same budget request could represent opportunity for startups venturing into the world of nuclear power.

Earth2Tech’s Top 7 Cities for Cleantech

cleantechcityBack before the stimulus package or the Waxman-Markey bill, when no one was sure whether tax credits for renewable energy would be re-upped or allowed to fade away, U.S. mayors decided to adopt their own climate policy. In signing on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (a pact to strive for the greenhouse gas reductions targeted by the Kyoto Protocol), cities such as Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco sent a “we’ll do it on our own” statement in response to the lack of federal policy.

Since the launch of the agreement in 2005, some 500 more cities have signed on (and counting). And while some cities just signed the document and moved on, others have used the initiative to draft further innovative strategies that deliver meaningful reductions. The most effective strategies, by far, have been those that bring sustainability initiatives into the office of economic development and turn the city into an early adopter of “green” products and services. It’s exactly this sort of strategy that makes the following cities the best in the country to be a cleantech start-up. In a report, Living Cities Foundation interviewed sustainability directors and gathered data from city sustainability departments throughout the country. We’ve landed on the following seven as the best spots to start and grow a cleantech company (more interviews from the report here). [digg=]

First up: San Jose »

Image credit: arimoore.

Over 9,000 citations in one day in NYC for driving while using a cell phone

key2safedrivingThe issue of driving while talking on a cell phone has two distinct sides, and no matter which side of that issue you are on, if you spend much time in a car you see this every day.  We’ve all heard the stories of fatal car accidents caused by drivers on cell phones. Studies have indicated that talking on a phone while driving impacts the driver’s reaction time in a manner similar to intoxication.
Many major cities in the U.S. ban driving while talking, although most of those allow the use of headsets or other hands-free solutions.  Personally I think it’s the lack of concentration on driving due to the phone conversation as much as holding a handset, so I’m not sure that headsets make that much difference.  My own city of Houston has ordinances that ban the use of phones while driving in school zones which seems like a good thing.
New York City recently had a one-day clamp-down on driving while using a phone and issued over 9,000 citations to drivers talking on phones.  That number is amazing even for a large city like NYC, and it indicates the law is not impacting the practice enough.  Another statistic that I find amazing is that over 195,000 citations were issued in NYC in 2008. That plainly shows that the $120 fine is not a big deterrent to those who talk and drive. Maybe it’s time to force the use of gadgets that prevent phone calls in cars?  These are typically designed for teen drivers but they’re not the only ones doing all the texting or talking.
(via cellular-news)